Like it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) is here, not only to stay, but also to drastically transform the way we live, work, study, and play. The production of hundreds of AI-powered tools is underway and sooner than later, ChatGPT will just be a dime a dozen. We will be spoiled with choices.
This development in AI, however, is also met with trepidation. There are fears coming from some sectors, particularly in the media and the academe. It is understandable as the technology is too “invasive” and there are issues on factuality, but whatever these may be, any industry cannot completely avoid or reject AI-powered tools as there are benefits in using them.
In related news, it is quite surprising that an institution as traditional and venerable as the Supreme Court (SC) has been on the “affirmative” side on AI, with no less than Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo championing the court’s automation and digitalization with the aid of AI-powered tools.
Case in point was Gesmundo’s speech during the Court Stenographers Association of the Philippines (COSTRAPHIL) in Dipolog City last April 26. He said that to expedite the submission of stenographic notes during court proceedings “to facilitate the speedy disposition of cases,” AI can help in the stenographic work.
“We can harness AI-enabled voice-to-text transcription services to make stenographic work more efficient and more effective,” he said. “After these tools generate automated transcripts, stenographers can then make corrections and enhancements; these will be fed back into the software’s system through adaptive algorithms, allowing it to constantly improve.”
The use of AI-enabled voice-to-text transcription will be pilot tested in several courts. “If it is successful, we will roll out AI-powered transcription technology in additional courts, and, hopefully, across all our courts,” said Gesmundo, noting that the full court automation is part of the five-year Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations (SPJI).
The chief justice is cognizant of the concerns of some people with regards to AI replacing their work. He allayed the fears of court stenographers who may think that full automation would make their jobs irrelevant.
“We are aware that there are apprehensions from those who encounter the words reorganization, digitization, and automation, and hear downsizing and layoffs,” he said. “Let me be clear: when we talk of pushing the judiciary forward through innovation, we mean exactly that — to propel the judiciary, in its entirety, forward. That means bringing everyone, including our court stenographers, in tow.”
He stressed that the SC is not pursuing innovation for innovation’s sake but “through digitization and automation, we will be able to unleash our potential and upgrade our skills for more meaningful work.”
As the SC reorganizes its systems and transforms its processes, Gesmundo hopes that its people will be “freed from the shackles of bureaucracy that limit productivity,” and “empowered to lead happier and healthier lives.”
“I call on court stenographers to embrace technology in the performance of your duties, especially as we pursue reform through innovation. Harness it to work more efficiently and expeditiously. Invest in the skills and resources needed to enable the shift that we envision. Be active agents of reform, bearing in mind that these innovations are meant not to supplant us, but to support us.”
As the SC welcomes AI with open arms, what are the implications — and what are the boundaries? Will other government agencies follow suit? If AI-powered tools can help in producing results faster, easier, and cheaper, why shouldn’t it be used for the benefit of the Filipino people? Or should we pause for a while and look further down the road?
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